Hoopfulbride's Blog

Planning a wedding in a place called The Hope

On chosing how to spend money for the biggest party of our lives… 30 June 2009

Yes eastsidebride! Yes Meg! Yes Accordions and Lace!  How clever and articulate you ladies are. I have been mulling over your posts on wedding budget and this is my take on how we’re spending money:

Rooster and I consider ourselves extremely lucky to have a decent budget to play around with for our wedding because, simply put, we love to throw a party… and we are, for 200 people! All things considered, we probably have exactly the right amount. If we have more, we’d probably bank the cash (and buy a new car  or travel or a little holiday nest in the mountains or something) and if we’d had less, we’d just be a little less hospitable (as explained below).

We’ve approached our spending with a tight-fisted “spiral” philosophy: the smaller or closer it is to us or our wedding venue, the happier we are to spend money one it. The further away or bigger, the more we try to avoid it. In other words, we have tried our darndest to spend small and close with those in our immediate community. For example:

  • What we or our families can make or collect ourselves (without inflicint any kind of pain), we have: invites and other paperwork, “favours” (welcome pack on arrival with note and little bottle of liqueur and rusks to take home to enjoy with coffee in the morning), vases (all old silver and bronze from our family and friends), candle holders (recycled jars) and pickled beetroot as salad.
  • We have used and will use friends and family (or friends of friends) for our cake, beauty, hair, make-up, ceremony music, rings, dog collar for cowboy, photographer and videographer.
  • Our wines, florist, hire of equipment (most of it) and food (including fish and lamb for the braai/bbq which is the main mean) are from businesses or farms or fishermen in the area around De Hoop.
  • Where we have not been able to find a personal contact or someone near De Hoop, we’ve tried to support South African micro-businesses or crafts people in cape town: bridesmaids dresses are from a local SA designer, as is my dress (although she has imported the silk from London to ensure it is made under fair conditions), flower girl dresses will be made by an INCREDIBLY talented refugee woman (from Somalia) who makes her living by sewing, bridal party shoes are from a Pakistani street vendor who brings in leather and beaded shoes made in his village (ok, not southafrican, but still micro), the bulk of our guest registry will be with small bespoke stores we adore in ct (only some stuff from the online giants for guests from further away), dj (a young guy starting out) and cocktail hour musician (an Angolan singer-guitarist who plays beautiful afro-brazilian music), south african recycled paper to print invites from our local paper store etc…
  • Only for VERY few items have we resorted to splashing out or buying in bulk from big stores (sorry chinese children…). I have insisted we pay a slightly ridiculous amount on hiring chrystal candle holders because i am in love with them SO much. We will also probably buy stuff like candles, etc, en masse because I’m cheap like that. Rooster is buying his suit from a local boutique that imports suits from Italy (although the guy is himself going to source a suit that fits him perfectly!) – tad more expensive than local, but not ridiculous and the suit is BEAUTIFUL.

As a result of this philosophy, a few very awesome things have happened: friends have offered to do things for free or have offered us amazing discounts. Locally sourced products and vendors (already cheaper) have offered to let us use their products at a discounted rate. And for the bulk-buys, we’ve been able to hunt for bargains (because I love a bargain…). So, we’ve saved LOADS of cash compared to the same wedding if our philosophy was any different. Yay…

For the most fleeting of moments, we thought about holding onto the cash: perhaps even being “responsible” and investing, but it occurred to us that we could share the love a little more! So we subsidised accommodation at De Hoop for all our guests. We’re paying for accommodation for our close family, the wedding party and their partners! We’re also paying for the accommodation for the wedding fairies who are helping us for free! And my aunt (my dad’s only sister) and uncle who were recently laid off and have both had to settle major medical bills recently: we can pay for their accommodation too!

We’re still trying our hardest in these times to scrimp and save wherever possible and we do have moments of unease where we worry about how much cash we’re spending on just one party (at least it’s a WAW so it’s a whole 4-day vibe…). But actually, what good does it help to splurge on the silly things at our wedding, then pass the cost of travelling and accommodation onto our guests?  Times are tight for everybody and it is a real privilege to be able to treat our guests, even if only a little bit.


invites: i love it when a plan comes together 25 June 2009

Filed under: being thrifty,cowboy the dog,fynbos,Invites,Things I love — hoopfulbride @ 5:14 pm

Hurrah! We got our test print back for the invites and they will be just grand! Rooster and my aforementioned love for fynbos was always going to feature prominently in the wedding planning and one of our first ideas was how to work that into our invites: close-up macro photos of fynbos flowers and pretty leaves from our walks.

Since our engagement we have taken hundreds of close-up pics of pretty flowers and leaves on our walks around the peninsula and beyond. We walk on the mountain quite a lot because we need to exercise ourselves and, importantly, our pup-o-love (as I call him).  Here is our dog Cowboy (he is a boy and he looks like a cow) who needs a lots of walking otherwise he gets pretty energetic (like, too energetic):

(As a COMPLETE aside (and don’t tell anybody): we have got special permission for Cowboy to be allowed to be at our wedding – he may or not be the ring bearer (but Rooster and Scissor think that’s REALLY dorky, and I’m coming round to their p.o.v.), but the most awesome thing is that he will be there. We thought he wouldn’t allowed to be because De Hoop is a nature reserve with loads of real live animals, but the wedding area is fairly cordoned off so we are allowed to bring him! Our fantastic leather-artist friend will make him a fancy collar. Bless…)

Back to invites:

So we have decided to use the pics of proteas (etc) that we have taken and use them as our invites… and our welcome notes, and our order of service and our name cards and our thank-you notes! While each card will only have two close-up pics (front and back), by the time people arrive at the Reserve (or at the ceremony or at the reception – depending on how savvy they are!) they will discover that all the pics form a kind of giant tapestry of our walks together! We think we’re very clever 🙂 

We are also lucky enough to have access to a high-quality printer (Rooster’s family business prints catalogues), so our already thrifty invites (no designers or letterpress or fancy paper – only locally recycled) have become a million times cheaper! 

Today we received the first two test sheets with our flowers printed on recycled card paper with a white border. Our consensus is to make a folded card (with a flower pic on the outside of either sheet of the card), make the corners rounded (for a retro feel) and have the text printed in grey inside.

Interlude: I frikkin love the round-corner punch. LOVE. I think i may never tire of punching round corners on our invites. Good Luck to Rooster if he wants a turn punching rounded corners… okenoughofthat!

While the invites will be about postcard size, we need longer envelopes as we are sending our guests glossy brochures about De Hoop (so they too can start to get excited). We’re thinking black or grey envelopes around which we will wrap a paper band of fynbos flowers (they will really stand out on the black) and we will write the addresses in gold ink (I love a gold pen). I really couldn’t be bothered about calligraphy. My experience is that people tear open the envelope and never give it a second glance…

With a “destination wedding” (I really feel uneasy using that term. How about a “weekend away wedding”?), we obviously have a lot of admin that our guests will need to know. Therefore, we have set up a Most Useful Wedding Website with all kinds of useful hints and tips (like,  the plan for the three-day wedding (not all are invited to the post-wedding prawn braai) how to book accommodation and, importantly, how to get there). Our invite will refer our guests to our online tome.

In order to diminsh the overall environmental footstep of this wedding, and to keep costs and (really important) admin down, we’re asking people to RSVP via e-mail or phone. We also sent our save-the-dates by e-mail and we have set up a dedicated gmail account for all wedding admin. In all my nearly 30 years (and a good 5 of them attending weddings at least semi-regularly) I have never really got round to posting a reply to an invite (even if postage is included and even if i really liked the idea at the time). Really – all the bride needs to know is who’s going to be there: does she really need a whole piece of (postage paid) paper telling her that?!?

For now, I’m afraid you will have to make do with my verbal description… I promise to post pictures when they are less in a “test” phase and more in a “sending” phase. Promise.